It may be too soon for some, but here are some initial thoughts on the 2014 FC Dallas season.
First, so much house money. After not making the playoffs since 2011 - and that being a poor appearance at that.
Oscar Pareja took over a team that had a good bit of talent, but it wasn't managed as well as it possibly could have been. Some players had been played too much, others not utilized maybe as much as they could have been. Its a fair question, especially in 2011, when David Ferreira was injured, why more squad rotation wasn't used more often even though the team was under a lot of schedule congestion.
By most accounts, we have seen a good number of games from a variety of players, and almost all of the ones that currently are able to play first division soccer. It was a well developed roster.
We have seen a number of players do more than what was expected of them as well. Fabian Castillo, Victor Ulloa and Tesho Akindele specifically had break out years. Other players, like Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges and Blas Perez had solid to really good seasons. Other surprises, like Moises Hernandez and Chris Seitz, proved able to play. Seitz in particular was really good, especially in tonight's game against Seattle. In some ways, it shouldn't be surprising considering the amount of time the keeper had to hone his game, but he had not gotten regular minutes since playing for Philadelphia in their expansion season.
And the promise of Mauro Diaz' first seven games. Wow.
We also saw some things that are more than just good roster management and player development. One of the negatives from this season was a rash of injuries and suspensions (a team record of red cards, and another 5+ games worth of suspensions), but the team played for the coach no matter who was in the lineup and, considering that they lost their key player so early in the season, coming in fourth in the West and winning their elimination game against a good Vancouver side is no embarrasment. Add in that they fell on the away goals rule to the Supporters Shield winners - as well as the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup champions - and you could say they showed they were clearly in the top tier of the league.
There is a lot more drilling down to be done. These are just surface level observations. But considering where the club was in November of 2013, it has been a good year for the team.
Now, that doesn't mean there are no changes to be made. Far from it. There are certainly players who could have produced more, certain positions that could use some upgrading. There is the crazy season of the next month with the MLS Dispersal draft for Chivas USA players, then the expansion draft for Orlando City and NYCFC, as well as the Re-Entry Drafts, etc. Lots of moving parts.
But overall, this club certainly moved the needle in the right direction.